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The 5 Best Historic Hotels in San Francisco
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The 5 Best Historic Hotels in San Francisco

Picture of Justin Hsuan
Updated: 15 October 2018
San Francisco is a city filled with striking architecture. Many of the city’s most beautiful buildings were constructed as grand hotels, and many are still in operation. These historic hotels were largely constructed around the turn of the 20th century and still look much the same as when they first opened, replete with ornate lobbies and classically appointed suites. When visiting SF, avoid ubiquitous hotel chains and stay in one of these unique accommodations.
© gags9999/Flickr
© gags9999/Flickr

Hotel Whitcomb

The Hotel Whitcomb is located in Downtown SF, conveniently near hotspots like the Theatre District, Soma, and Union Square. Take in the high-ceilinged lobby with polished Italian marble columns and dramatic Austrian crystal chandeliers. Sip on classic cocktails and munch on tapas in the hotel’s Tavern, an intimate and beautifully preserved space to relax with friends. Fun fact: After the 1906 earthquake devastated the city, the Hotel Whitcomb was constructed to serve as a temporary City Hall, until it was converted to a hotel in 1915.

The Fairmont San Francisco

The Fairmont offers 592 luxuriously appointed rooms and 62 elegant suites with scenic Bay vistas. The hotel is situated near all of the city’s cable car lines, making it a breeze to get to destinations like Fisherman’s Wharf, Downtown, the Financial District, or Union Square. The 6000 square foot Penthouse Suite, with its library, billiard room, and outdoor terrace, is a true once-in-a-lifetime experience. Also nestled inside the hotel is a world-class, full-service luxury spa, offering all sorts of massages and treatments.

© neekoh.fi/Flickr
© neekoh.fi/Flickr

The Palace Hotel

Built in 1875, The Palace is the oldest hotel of this group, but it is far from stuffy or outdated. A 2015 renovation updated this living legend with clean, modern styling while maintaining its original elegance and opulence. Enjoy a variety of room options from the stylish Superior Room to the spacious Suites. Don’t miss out on Afternoon Tea in the chic but timeless Garden Court, where one may also enjoy a sumptuous breakfast buffet or a luxurious brunch of caviar and champagne.

© Jeffrey/Wikimedia Commons
© Jeffrey/Wikimedia Commons

The Intercontinental Mark Hopkins

Though the hotel is now operated by the multinational hotel company InterContinental, the Mark Hopkins retains all of its original 1926 charm. The hotel offers standard rooms, but it is the collection of one-of-a-kind luxury suites that make the Mark Hopkins truly special. Be sure to grab a martini and take in the spectacular panoramic view of the Bay and SF skyline from the Top of the Mark sky-lounge, all while enjoying nightly live music and performances.

Nob Hill Hotel

The Nob Hill Hotel was first established in 1906 and restored to its original state in 1998. The hotel has managed to preserve its remarkably colorful rooms, where brightly-patterned wallpaper and linens make for a visually striking experience. Union Square, the Theatre District, and Chinatown are all within walking distance. Make sure to take advantage of the complimentary wine and cheese happy hour each evening from 5:30-7:00pm, as well as the imported wine selection at the hotel’s Colombini Italian Cafe Bistro.

© Roman Boed/Flickr
© Roman Boed/Flickr

By Justin Hsuan

Justin Hsuan is a member of the Class of 2018 at Stanford University, studying philosophy and mathematics. His non-academic interests are varied and include basketball, cinema, food and cooking, business and technology, fashion, fish-keeping, and R&B and jazz. He aspires to be a writer as well as serve in elected office. He is originally from Long Island where he spends his breaks with his mother, father, and younger brother. Feel free to follow him on social media; he appreciates it.

Twitter: @HsuanJustin

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